Kirkcaldy RFC: Optimism and positive mood for the season to come

Kirkcaldy Rugby Football Club is rolling towards its 150th anniversary in 2023.

By Ralph Mellon
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 11:40 am
Kirkcaldy in try-scoring action last season against Dumfries Saints (picture by Michael Booth)
Kirkcaldy in try-scoring action last season against Dumfries Saints (picture by Michael Booth)

And there is an air of positivity and confidence about the new season ahead at Beveridge Park, with the month of August devoted to pre-season fixtures, a determination to improve on last year’s showing in Tennent’s National League Division Two – and the election of the club’s first ever woman president.

Many familiar faces in the senior men’s XV squad will be back in action for the Blues, while the squad has been training for around five weeks and enjoyed a practice session on Saturday in St Andrews.

The first game of the new league campaign is on Saturday, September 3 – an away match at newly-promoted Lasswade.

On August 6, the club will be hosting its 2022 Royal Bank RugbyForce day, featuring an appearance by a Scotland international, a fun day, touch tournament and other attractions.

Kirkcaldy host Stirling County for a pre-season friendly game on Saturday, August 13 before two away matches, at Dundee Rugby on August 20 and Perthshire on August 27.

Grant Letham, director of rugby development, said the mood at Beveridge Park was as upbeat as it could be.

“You always start the season not knowing quite exactly what you're going to face,” he said. “We didn’t have the best of seasons last year – we beat teams we wouldn’t have been expected to beat and we lost against teams we should have beaten, so we hope to try and eliminate the mistakes, move on and give as good an account of ourselves as possible.”

Kirkcaldy aimed to hold on to the good players it had and keep them going, said Letham, adding: “As long as we can maintain a fit, healthy squad, we've got to be optimistic.”

Letham said the club had asked a lot of its young players last year. “There were a lot of young lads who we'd probably preferred not to have exposed to quite as much rugby as they ended up doing,” he said. “So here's hoping we remain a bit more injury-free and, hopefully, we’ll progress and the guys we have will do themselves justice.

"There has been a lot of talk behind the scenes about league reconstruction and potential for other national leagues coming into play,” added Letham. “We want to make sure we are playing at the highest level we can do and, obviously, remain the top team in Fife.”

Strengthening community links and boosting enthusiasm for rugby are among the goals new president Ann Oliver wants to try for.

The club’s 150th anniversary falls during her two-year tenure and she hopes to oversee further developments at Beveridge Park.

Ann recently became the club’s first ever woman president and is also thought to be the first non-player to hold the post.

Daughter of one of the club’s best-known figures, John Methven, Kirkcaldy-born Ann has had an affiliation with the Blues since she was a child. Her husband Stuart is a former second-row forward and her sons Euan, 14, and Murray, 17, both play for youth squads.

A senior partner with Innes Johnston Solicitors in the town, Ann was able to assist the club with business matters and applied last year to become a trustee. She was encouraged to stand as president when Dave Foster declared he was stepping down – and she was elected at this year’s annual general meeting.

Ann felt she could bring enthusiasm for rugby to her role and a passion to take the club forward, while she felt her non-playing status could also benefit.

“I never played but have watched a lot,” she said. “It’s becoming more diverse and there are opportunities for non-players to become involved.”

There could be a lot coming up in terms of redevelopment for the Blues in the next couple of years, as well as the landmark anniversary, added Ann.

“Dave Foster, the outgoing president, did a huge amount of work to drive forward and modernise the administration of the club,” she said.

"We are looking also to build on links in the community and get more people involved with rugby.”

Kirkcaldy hoped to improve on last season’s results and everyone was going into the forthcoming season in a positive frame of mind, said Ann.

“The team is focused, with a lot of experience within,” she added.